When but a callow lad of teen-aged years, I voraciously read Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan occasionally but I was apeshit for John Carter of Mars and especially Carson of Venus), Michael Moorcock (Elric), Robert E. Howard (Conan, King Kull), and others before moving on to the more arcane pleasures of H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Jack Vance, Gene Wolfe and ilk. I still read like a maniac, but, doing all that back then, I was more than aware of fellow lit-lovers who pursued cats like Sax Rohmer (Fu Manchu) and A.A. Merritt (high fantasy/sci-fi/space opera), but then there were the loner acolytes of the mighty Man of Bronze, Doc Savage. Though I didn't share their genre tastes as such, people like John Coltrane and Ruby Braff did…and so did Scott Robinson, winds and horn player, percussionist, and keyboardist. Following on those heady days, he here has indited a set of highly narrative structures that are bracing, indeed fascinating, very often stunning, on any number of levels and enshrine that realm of the imagination such classic pulp works inspired in young and older minds.
To call this jazz is reflexive; there's such a large swath of neoclassical and other progressive frames of mind that the label is just too confining, kinda like saying King Crimson plays rock and roll or that Yehudi Menuhin sported a pretty fair violin. Fortress of Solitude (Superman wasn't the only uber-menschen who had one, ya know) is an exercise in abstract angular pointillism combined with old West Coast cool, a bit of Steve Lacy, and Ted Rosenthals' way the hell cool piano, Jarrett by way of Brubeck with a trace of Penderecki Sauce for oblique piquancy. Then Robinson's bass sax rumbles in to provide weighty ballast on an undulating sea of smooth rollers that suddenly starts acting up, provoking squall and squonk.
In fact, every player here is rock solid, masterful in chiaroscuro, painting, sculpting with deft hands. Everything about Bronze Nemesis, despite a good deal of improv (or is it?!?!) and sometimes furious tempi generating wild blowing, is measured and controlled, providing lucid tableaus awash with elder science-fiction paraphernalia—even, huzzah!, a theremin—alien vistas, terran exotica, orientalist tapestries, and Sun Ra-ish phantasmagorias. I suspect the venerable Barrons, hallowed realizeurs of the phenomenal Forbidden Planet soundtrack, both now passed beyond the mysterious Last Veil, would flip their wigs at what the gents in this quintet evoke, Mad Eyes exceptionally experimental and quintessentially insane…but, oh ye gods and demons, what a pleasurable dementia!
This is definitely one of the best recordings of the year regardless of category and it'll be on my Top 20 of 2012, must listening for progrockers (remove the sturm und drang from Univers Zero, and this CD's just as inventive without all the broken eardrums), jazz fans, neoclassicuckoos, outsiders, avant-gardians, musique concretists, and maybe even the average Joe, though I severely doubt that last one, less'n, of course, he's managed to retain precious grey matter in this cultural and worldwide swamp of a political mess. Yep, pilgrims, things are that bad, and Bronze Nemesis is that damn good; like the famed old novels, a complete escape from sordid reality. And we sure could use us a Doc Savage-type guy right about now, couldn't we? Hm……Jesse Ventura???
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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